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Posts Tagged ‘3D Modeling’

SOLIDWORKS: Continuity and Curvature Part II

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

In Part I of this series, we looked at how the smoothness of curves can be analyzed and controlled. Now we’ll be taking a look at some additional analyses tools to further evaluate our surfaces as well as ways to improve our curvature continuous connections.

The zebra stripes tool (view>display>zebra stripes) allows us to see small changes on a surface that may be hard to see with a standard display. This tool mimics the reflection of long stripes of light on a very shiny surface. With zebra stripes, we can verify that two adjacent faces are in contact, are tangent, or have continuous curvature. As can be seen in the image below, the zebra stripes for contact do not have the same direction or size. The zebra stripes for tangent have the same direction, but change sizes where the tangency occurs – there are two points of tangency. And the curvature continuous stripes share the same direction and the same size throughout the entire surface.

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What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: How to Set the Material for Individual Bodies of a Multi-Body Part

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018


There are numerous benefits for creating your part design as a multibody part ranging from performance to file management in SOLIDWORKS. However if you have tried to apply a material to a multibody part you will notice that the materials folder of the feature manger will apply the same material to every single body in your design.  This works fine if you have a weldment structure which is all made out of steel, but most designs use a combination of materials to accomplish their design goals. In this example for a conveyor belt, there could be aluminum, steel and even rubber. One material could be applied to the entire design, however our mass property and simulation results would be inaccurate.
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Useful Keyboard Shortcuts and Workflow Customizations in SOLIDWORKS

Friday, January 5th, 2018


Using the standard SOLIDWORKS tools and features from the CommandManager is already an extremely efficient method to quickly bring concepts into a three dimensional model. However, many users prefer to leverage a variety of both standard and custom shortcuts through hotkeys or context menus for an even faster workflow. This article covers many of the most impactful default keyboard shortcuts in SOLIDWORKS, and describes how to customize them for maximum time savings.

While using SOLIDWORKS, all of the standard Microsoft keyboard shortcuts are available. As expected, CTRL-O can be used to open a document, CTRL-S will save the current document, and CTRL-Z will undo the most recent action. However, many additional SOLIDWORKS-specific keyboard shortcuts exist that can make potentially tedious point-and-click commands obsolete.

A few of the more popular shortcuts include using the spacebar to bring up the Orientation menu, which provides access to many standard views, as well as any custom views that have been saved. Pressing the R key will display a list of recent documents, and specific documents can even be pinned to the list permanently. Another great shortcut is CTRL-B, which will automatically rebuild your model. A table of some of the most popular default SOLIDWORKS keyboard shortcuts has been provided below:

SOLIDWORKS: Useful Keyboard Shortcuts and Workflow Customizations

One exceptionally popular keyboard shortcut is the S key. This opens a context-sensitive shortcut menu for rapid access to your favorite commands. Since the menu is context-sensitive, different menus will be presented depending on whether the part, assembly, drawing, or sketch environment is active. An example of this menu is shown below:

SOLIDWORKS: Useful Keyboard Shortcuts and Workflow Customizations

The tools found on this menu can be customized by right clicking on the menu once it has been activated and choosing Customize, or by simply clicking the options dropdown and choosing Customize. The resulting dialog is shown below, and several tabs are available for customization.

SOLIDWORKS: Useful Keyboard Shortcuts and Workflow Customizations

The Keyboard tab, shown above, can be used to modify existing shortcuts or create custom ones for any SOLIDWORKS command. Simply click in the Shortcut(s) cell for the command and type the keyboard shortcut to apply it. Multiple hotkeys can be added if desired.

The Shortcut Bars tab can be used to modify the shortcuts available in the S key shortcut menu. Commands can be dragged and dropped both on and off of the menus as needed, and the shortcut bar for each environment can be customized individually.

Additionally, mouse gestures are another great way to optimize workflow. Similar to shortcut bars, mouse gestures can be customized by dragging and dropping commands onto the context-sensitive wheels. To activate mouse gestures, simply hold the right mouse button and drag the cursor in the direction of the desired command. The customization menu for mouse gestures is shown below:

SOLIDWORKS: Useful Keyboard Shortcuts and Workflow Customizations

These shortcuts are an excellent way to optimize your workflow, ensuring that designs are created as efficiently and effectively as possible. For more information, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!

SOLIDWORKS: Continuity and Curvature

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

I like nice curves and I cannot lie. And in SOLIDWORKS we can control exactly how smooth our curves are. When it comes to curves in SOLIDWORKS, there is a difference between what is smooth and what looks smooth. This blog will discuss how we can analyze our curves and control how smooth they really are by using surface evaluation tools and different spline tools.

The quality of a great surface lies within the curve that defines it. These curves are ideally created and controlled through splines. The spline sketch tool creates a smooth curve through the position of control vertices, or CV’s. Controlling the quality of our splines will ultimately control the quality of our surfaces. Splines can be analyzed using the curvature combs tool. The curvature combs tool graphically shows the amount of curvature at a given point on a sketch element. A smooth curvature comb is desired to produce the smoothest surface. As shown below, both splines look the same until we look at their curvature combs. The spline with the smoothest curvature combs (i.e. no flat spots or dips exist) will produce the smoothest surface.

SOLIDWORKS: Continuity and Curvature SOLIDWORKS: Continuity and Curvature

To create smooth curvature combs, splines should be created with the least amount of points possible. Just as seen above, both of these splines are identical. The difference in curvature combs is due to the fact that the spline on the left was made with just 2 points, whereas the spline on the right was made with 5.

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What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen Input for Sketching

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Hi everyone! In this blog, I’m going to showcase a brand-new feature available in SOLIDWORKS 2018 to help you design faster! Have you ever had an idea and either not had a mouse or wanted to sketch it freely rather than using a mouse? With this new release and your Windows 10 touch-enabled device, now you can live out those wants with Touch Based sketching.

I’m working on the gas cap for my RC car and I’ve decided that I want to really make it unique by adding a design to the front of it. I’m going to put a cloud to symbolize a gas cloud (and because there’s a reason I became an engineer instead of an artist.) I also found a picture that I want to use as a sketch picture and that’s in a sketch that I’ll unhide.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 1: Gas Cap Isometric View

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching

The first thing I want to point out is the new Sketch Ink Command Manager tab, which where all of my touch sketch commands will be. This can be turned on like any other command manager tab, right-click on an existing tab and select it from the list.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 3: Sketch Ink Command Manager.

I’ll start my cloud sketch by selecting the gas cap face and hitting Sketch. There’s a pulldown to allow me to select a 2D or 3D sketch, touch sketching works with both. Next, you can customize your pen color and thickness. Use the slider to adjust the latter.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching

Next to that is an eraser tool if you need to delete any errant strokes, and the select tool to select geometry. The eraser works similarly to Power Trim, where swiping over existing geometry with it turned on erases it. The select tool turns your stylus or finger into a mouse pointer.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 5: Remaining Sketch Ink Commands

The Touch button is next to that. I’m using a stylus, but you can use this mode with your finger. Without that button pressed, swiping on my screen causes the model to move around. Therefore, to start sketching I’m going to click that button. Next, there are 2 ways to sketch entities: Auto Shape and Auto Sketch Entities. I’ll use Auto Shape to sketch the cloud, converting my pen strokes to smooth geometry. These are just conceptual, but I can use Select and hit Update to Entities which will change them to sketch entities.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 6: Cloud drawn using Auto Shape.What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 7: Update to Entities command.What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 8: Updated Entities.

If you prefer to go straight to sketch entities, use the Auto Sketch Entities button. I’ll switch over to that and sketch a lightning bolt. This will also imply sketch relations. Now I have a sketch that I can use to create a feature like a boss or cut, or a split line.

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018: Touch/Pen input for Sketching Figure 9: Using Auto Sketch Entities.

As you can see, touch sketching can bring more of your ideas to life with pretty minimal effort. For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!



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What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: 3D Interconnect Imports Custom Properties and Material

Monday, November 13th, 2017

New enhancements to 3D Interconnect in SOLIDWORKS 2018 allow for the import of custom properties and materials of third-party CAD Files. For those that don’t know, 3D Interconnect is an awesome tool added in SOLIDWORKS 2017 which makes it possible to work directly with third-party CAD files, rather than using the standard import and translation methods. 3D Interconnect allows SOLIDWORKS to directly read these parts and assemblies without translation, removing the possibility of translation errors that Import Diagnostics would need to fix. It also creates a parametric link to the original part or assembly file, allowing it to update if the file is changed in its third-party CAD software. Finally, 3D Interconnect maintains face and edge IDs so that when the file is updated, any mates or additional features added inside of SOLIDWORKS are preserved. File types that currently work with 3D Interconnect are:

  • ACIS*
  • Autodesk® Inventor: .ipt for V6 – V2016, .iam for V11 – V2016
  • CATIA® V5: .CATPart, .CATProduct for V5R8 – 5–6R2016
  • IGES*
  • JT*
  • NX™ software: .prt for UG 11 – NX 10
  • PTC® Creo: .prt, .prt.*, .asm, .asm.* for Pro/ENGINEER® 16 – Creo 3.0
  • Solid Edge®: .par, .asm, .psm for V18 – ST8
  • STEP*

*File types now supported in SOLIDWORKS 2018

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What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Mesh Modeling Workflow

Friday, November 10th, 2017

SOLIDWORKS 2018 introduces a number of enhancements for working with imported mesh designs such as .STL and .OBJ files.  These files are most commonly imported into SOLIDWORKS as Graphics bodies, which have seen a variety of new enhancements this year as well – please see our existing blog article and video for a detailed look into these new capabilities.

This article and companion video focuses on a new workflow for working with mesh files in SOLIDWORKS 2018, which is the ability to natively modify mesh models. This is accomplished via a new body type called a “Mesh body”.

Graphics bodies, as well as native Solid and Surface bodies, can be converted to this new Mesh body type. To convert a body, simply select it from the appropriate Bodies folder and choose the Convert to Mesh Body command.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Mesh Modeling WorkflowThis enables an exciting new workflow. Converting Solid bodies to Mesh bodies allows traditional SOLIDWORKS features to be used to modify mesh files. This can be seen in the image below, where SOLIDWORKS features are used to make the threads for the imported bottle scan. The thread body is then converted to a Mesh body, so that it can be merged together with a Combine feature.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Mesh Modeling WorkflowPreviously, any modifications to a mesh file would have required a time-consuming process to convert it to a solid or surface body first. The new Mesh body type and supported features allows direct manipulation of the mesh files, and they can be re-exported in the native mesh format such as .STL or .OBJ.

Aside from basic Boolean style operations like Combine/Subtract, there are a number of additional commands supported. The full list of features currently available for use with Mesh bodies is visible below:

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Mesh Modeling WorkflowUsing these features allowed me to take an imported 3D Scan .STL, such as the bottle scan below, and add manufacturing details to prepare a functional 3D printed prototype without ever having to convert the mesh file! This example was printed on one of Hawk Ridge Systems’ HP 3D printers, and had enough strength and flexibility to be dropped or squeezed without fear of damage.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Mesh Modeling WorkflowIf you are using 3D scanning or 3D printing technology, this new Mesh body type and workflow should be an exciting new functionality.

It’s worth noting, however, that Mesh bodies are not exportable as neutral CAD file formats such as .STEP or .IGES – so if that is the end goal, a conversion process will be necessary. Tools like the ScanTo3D add-in or the partner product Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS can greatly speed up the conversion process of imported mesh data, if this is required.

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!



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What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Measure Tool Enhancements

Monday, November 6th, 2017

With each annual release, SOLIDWORKS looks to streamline their tools to make the designer more productive. One of the most commonly used tools is the Measure Tool! We can use it to measure the lengths of edges, determine the distance between planes and surfaces, and even calculate the surface area, among many other applications. In 2018, SOLIDWORKS made it even better. Now in SOLIDWORKS 2018, the Measure Tool has been enhanced to include a larger selection window, the ability to quickly copy and paste measurements, adjust the font size for easier reading, and allows the Measure Tool to be pinned!

Larger Selection Window

When selecting items to measure, we’ve never had a limit on how many items we could select. We did, however, have a limit on how many selected entities appear in the selection window. For example, in the image of SOLIDWORKS 2017 below, we can see there are 8 edges selected, but only 3 items are visible in the selection window.

What's New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Measure Tool Enhancements

Now, in 2018, the selection window has been enlarged so we can see up to 6 items at a time! This makes it much easier to see what we’ve already selected and de-select anything we didn’t mean to include in the measurement.

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SOLIDWORKS: Embed A SOLIDWORKS Model on Your Website

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Have you ever wanted to post your 3D models on a website for your customers to view? Or better yet – have an interactive 3D model where your customers can fully grasp your design? SOLIDWORKS allows this capability through 3DContentCentral via eDrawings.

  1. First thing needed is to create an account on 3DContentCentral or log in to an existing account (3D ContentCentral)

SOLIDWORKS: Embed A SOLIDWORKS Model on Your Website

  1. Within the 3DContentCentral website, click on the Upload tab and accept the EULA to being the upload process

SOLIDWORKS: Embed A SOLIDWORKS Model on Your Website

  1. Once your model is uploaded, you will be able to see it on your profile by clicking on the MY 3DCC tab and scrolling down to the Portfolio section

SOLIDWORKS: Embed A SOLIDWORKS Model on Your Website

  1. If you click on your model, there will be a section labeled “Embed this 3D model in your Blog”
  2. Select and copy the iframe code from the box below the eDrawings viewer to embed the model on your website

SOLIDWORKS: Embed A SOLIDWORKS Model on Your Website

  1. Paste this code onto your website and you’re all set!

The size of the viewer can be controlled using the width and height values within the code. Your model can now be viewed through the interactive eDrawings viewer, which also allows features like exploded and section views.

<iframe scrolling=’no’ frameborder=’0′ allowfullscreen=’true’ src=’http://www.3dcontentcentral.com/external-site-embed.aspx?format=3D&catalogid=171&modelid=815212&width=250&height=250&edraw=true’ name=’PreviewFrame3D’ id=’PreviewFrame3D’ width=’400′ height=’355′></iframe><br/><a href=’http://www.3dcontentcentral.com/download-model.aspx?catalogid=171&id=815212′>Download</a>

Now you can not only share your models with customers, but also allow them to fully interact with them!

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Color-Coded Folders in FeatureManager Design Tree

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

We’ve had the ability to add folders to the FeatureManager Design Tree for quite some time now. If you’re not familiar with this practice, folders can be added to your FeatureManager Design Tree to help you organize features or components in part and assembly documents. In a part, you can create folders to group a set of sequential features that are used for a specific part of your design. For example, creating a folder to group machined features. In an assembly, you can group components, hardware, mates, etc.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Color-Coded Folders in FeatureManager Design Tree

Since these features or components are nested in the folders, you would have to expand the folder to access its contents. If you just wanted to see the state of features or components (i.e. hidden, suppressed, resolved), the added steps of expanding these folders can be annoying and time-consuming. Luckily, this is not the case thanks to the new enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2018.

In SOLIDWORKS 2018, the folder icons in the FeatureManager Design Tree are color coded to indicate whether they contain features or components that are hidden or suppressed, resolved/lightweight, or any combination of the three. The image below is a screenshot of the same assembly folders shown above. Some components have been suppressed/hidden to showcase the new color-coded icons. The folders have also been renamed to describe the icon.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Color-Coded Folders in FeatureManager Design Tree

The color scheme for the folder icons is shown in the table below as well.

What’s New SOLIDWORKS 2018: Color-Coded Folders in FeatureManager Design Tree

The new color-coded folder icons in SOLIDWORKS 2018 gives you a quick visual indicator so you can know the status of your features/components in your designs at a glance. For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!




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